A distant descendant opens an exhibition about the pioneer Winand Staring


ALMEN – The exhibition on Winand Staring (1808-1877), founder of Dutch geology and agronomy, was opened in Almen on Saturday afternoon by… Winand Staring.

By Sander Grootendorst

Dressed in a wig and fake beard, the distant descendant and namesake of the man whose life and work will be at the center of the museum STAAL in the coming months addressed the public. A comic impersonation of his ancestor, which he did to say at the end of his speech that his great-great-grandson should reveal the picture on the wall of the museum. “Winand, where are you?”

After which he removed his wig and beard to remove the canvas for a bronze plaque depicting his ancestor, along with his sister Jennine Staring and museum director Pien Pon. “The board was made possible by our sister Anneke, who unfortunately died in September.”

Winand Staring after the unveiling of the plaque.

The group then entered the museum and immediately passed the first geological map of the Netherlands: it was placed on the floor as part of the exhibition. Funny effect that visitors have to bend down to see the museum object. Winand Staring is the creator of the first map.

Staring’s geological map of the Netherlands is depicted on the floor of the museum STAAL.

Those present had learned a great deal about this Winand prior to the opening. His father ACW Staring is better known, partly because of the opening line of his poem The boisterous farmer: ‘Everyone knows where the Almensch church is’. In that church, across the street from the museum, experts had inquired deeply and passionately about Winand and his deeds. Winand and Jennine, whose descendants the latter now live at Wildenborch, had received the first copies of the exhibition catalog from Pien Pon.

Winand and Jennine Staring receive the first copy of the exhibition catalog from museum director Pien Pon.

There are clear interfaces between geology and agronomy; in Winand’s nineteenth century they formed yet another whole. He researched to gather scientific knowledge and find practical agricultural solutions. Michiel van der Meulen, Head of Geology at TNO, spoke about the creation of the first geological map of the Netherlands. Pioneering work, because until then little more was available than a vague map stating that mammal fossils had been found in the lowlands. Sjoukje Heimovaara, chairman of the board of Wageningen University, discussed the importance of Winand Staring for agricultural education, including for children from poor families – he followed in the footsteps of ACW, which had set up a school near Wildenborch. A tip to his way, that Winand.
It is probably less known to the people of the Achterhoek that the name Staring lives on in various other places in the country, for example in the Wageningen Staring building. Professor of soil chemistry and Winand connoisseur Rob Comans took the audience on his recent journey of discovery into Winand’s contribution to the establishment of the National Agricultural School, which is now Wageningen University. His role appears to have been crucial, even writing a lobbying letter to a then member of the House of Representatives.

In his opening speech, great-great-grandson Winand, disguised as a distant ancestor, summarized the speeches in a concise manner. The fact that he then reached this far was due, among other things, to his “excellent training” at Wildenborch. He credited himself with “a certain determination”: “Not only in scientific achievements, but also in serving a social interest.” those who continue my work. Personally, I am most satisfied with the new hand plow, which makes the work of so many farmers easier.”
Coincidentally, at these words, a tractor drove noisily along the Dorpsstraat.

“I also sometimes visit my beloved De Boekhorst (the country estate in Klein Dochteren where the geologist lived, SG). Grateful that the new resident, Pieter van Druten, has cleaned things up a bit. And of course I thank Pien Pon, who makes us all visible in the Achterhoek around my father Anthony’s poems. The museum now even has an exhibition dedicated to me and my life’s work: the earth.” Applause!
Grandpa Winand would have been proud of his great-great-grandson.

Ten thousand visitors
The exhibition ‘Founder’ about Winand Carel Hugo Staring is open until 26 March 2023. It is the successor to the exhibition about the artist Jeanne Bieruma Oosting. Museum director Pien Pon said that it attracted no fewer than 10,000 visitors. In connection with the new exhibition, drawings by Winand can be seen, among other things. Great emphasis is placed on the soil layers that occur in the Netherlands. Not only can you look at them, you can also feel and explore them. Especially for children, Kinderzolder is full of dinosaurs. What really happened to the earth before the dinosaurs roamed it?

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